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4 kittens

So what exactly makes you difficult?

Posted on 2018.01.28 at 22:17

Has a new calendar:

Set herself a monthly goal:

Met her monthly goal today:


  After all, January is almost over. This kid.

Lately Hawaii has been reading Junie B. Jones books to Ace at story time. It's very wonderful and adorable.


 I can't get enough of his gap-toothed smile:


Rascal said, "I just saw something cute!" We were in the minivan.
I asked, "Was it an animal?"
He said, "Yes! a baby animal! I don't know what it's called!"
Ace chimed in with a cute thing she'd seen. Ace and Rascal started one-upping each other on cute (made-up) things, mostly involving baby animals.

Finally Ace said, "I once saw a mama bird laying an egg and it was so cuuuuuute!" I laughed pretty hard about that. The components of cute are there - animals, eggs, babies - but the squawking, distension, and labor just somehow overwhelm any residual cuteness.


Is lucky to be alive right now. I gave him his doggy child knife, and he stabbed it through my grandmother's leather chair.

It may seem small, but this is measured in heart-inches:

Just punctured it, thwock! for kicks, because he was holding a knife. It made me buggy with anger.  I'm afraid he can have a knife again when he turns 18.

This is the essence deu Rascal:

(You can see why it might be a bad idea to give him a knife.)

Earlier in the week, one morning, he yelled, "There's something wrong with my eyes! There's something wrong with my eyes!" It turned out that his eyes were crusted shut, from allergies. Poor baby. I took a warm damp washcloth to his eyes and we gently worked them loose.



All praise be to the tattoo convention! I spent the first four hours going through all photo books of past tattoos that were available. There were 140 booths. I took copious notes. My neck and back were sore from looking down at tables.  I was very prepared for that part. There were maybe 10-15 artists who stood out to me.

(My friend sent us a bunch of clothes from her childhood in Colombia in the 60s.)

I learned a lot: many tattoo parlors have artists who all tend to a similar shared style - heavy lined small-scale classic tattoos, say, or black and white realism, or delicate pointilism, or what have you.  Also, some cities seemed to have styles. The main cities that were represented were Austin, El Paso, San Diego, and Portland, although there were individual studios from a lot of other cities. Austin, on the whole, struck me as having more classic American style tattoos - thick lines, bold and small scale. El Paso had a lot of black and white realism, some of it amazingly photographic. Portland had more clean, fine lined tattoos than other places. I really liked a lot of the Portland stuff.

(Her own daughters were not interested.)

It's the first time I've seen a lot of large scale tattoos that are not Asian Clutter, that look where serpents and carp and waves are all crammed in close together in a culturally coöpting mushpot. Large scale tattoos don't have to be like that! This is what I've been saying. It was nice to see artists who regularly create clean large scale tattos where non-inked skin contributes to the design.

(But my kids felt like they were exploring some treasure that came from outside the house. Makes all the difference.)

My goal was to learn how to talk to tattoo artists. I was successful. I now have a good, clear spiel for introducing myself and my project. I say, "Hi, I really liked your work - do you have a few minutes to chat?" and then, "I'm looking to do a large scale project and I need to say up front: I'm probably a difficult client." Sheepish smile. Wait for response.

(Hawaii looked very elegant in this summer dress, with its wide square neck.)

After they nod or whatever, I continue: "I can't fully hand over control of the project. I'm looking for a collaborative process. I know this is asking a lot of the artist, so if we're not a good fit, that's totally fine, I get that." Invariably they did ask more about the process, and so I brought out my notebook with plastic sleeves and headers and tabs, and explanations, and quite a few of them were tickled by this.

(And this dress was just amazing. Ace kept saying she wanted to wear it with a chef's hat. I think this is because of the bib style.)

One deferred me to another artist in her shop, and another said, "Well, I have to warn you - I can't do any style but my own. Any time I try another artist's style, it just becomes looking like all my other stuff." A third was superficially agreeable but tossing out red flags about how she'd bend my vision to make it work. But the vast majority were thoughtful and interested, and shared what they saw possible with my ideas.

Somewhere in the conversation I would say, "I know this process is nonstandard, and I'm happy to compensate you for your time spent designing and working with me in ways you don't normally do." With one or two of them, that went a long way. With others, they said things implying that they think most artists are fragile princesses. One woman interrupted at one point, "...But so what exactly makes you difficult?"

Total I had ten conversations. Ten! With strange artists! That is what I was dreading!

(Channeling Alice in Wonderland. Without the white top dress layer, she was majorly channeling The Shining:

I ended up telling them about the plot of The Shining, which isn't in and of itself necessarily terrifying. Haunted hotel, lots of ghosts, Dad turns bad - could be a jolly misunderstanding.)

I've got two consultations with artists in Austin, and then five more who I'd be happy to collaborate with long-distance. One is near Dallas and the rest are near Portland.  It felt so good to have a positive turn of events. We shall see!

(A lot of the outfits had strange machinations - this is a muslin top attached to a skirt, with a separate shirt that fit over it.)

Also: these ten highly talented artists whose work appealed to me: they all speak with certainty, and they all contradict each other constantly. "This cat, that's unworkable. Over time it would fade to nothing." "Oh, this cat would make a GREAT tattoo! The contrast is what makes it work." Etc.  Tattoo artists: they're just like people.

It was a long ten hours of standing on cement around throngs of people, but I felt giddy afterwards at having gotten so much out of it.


I called on a student to give the next pair of coordinates needed for the problem, and she mumbled, "(4, 20). Blaaaaaaaze it."

I laughed - in a taken-aback way, not in a me-too-stoner way - and then joked, "Of course, that's what I was about to say."  I don't think anyone else in the class really caught the exchange, which is probably for the best.



When I got to the Heebieville tattoo parlor at the convention, I quickly found Jammies' picture in the photo book:

"That's my husband!" I told the artist enthusiastically.
"Jammies is your husband?" the artist said, "He's great! I loved doing his tattoo!"
"He's the best!" I agreed.
"Is he here, too?" asked the artist.
"Nope," I said, "He's watching the kids. He's the best!"

I specifically did not want to go to the local place, because we have friends involved there, and I don't want to make enemies in a small town. Like my spiel goes, I am a difficult client - even if I acknowledge it disarmingly - and I don't really want to shit where I eat, so to speak.

(And if I'm being entirely honest, I don't know if they're up to the challenge.)

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